Sometimes, we welcome problems. But during other times we try really hard to avoid them. But aren't we constantly looking for ways to better face them? here's something to read:
Tired of a life of struggle, a young woman sought her mother's advice. She told her how things were so hard for her and how she was unable to cope with problems. Her mother took her to the kitchen and filled three pots with water. In the first, she put carrots, in the second, she put eggs and in the last, she placed coffee beans. She let them boil without saying a word. Twenty minutes later, she turned off the burners and asked her daughter, "What do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the daughter replied. The mother drew her closer and told her to feel the carrots. She did and saw that they were soft. She was then asked to take an egg and break it. On shelling, the daughter found a hard-boiled egg. Finally, she was asked to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.Perplexed, she asked, "What's your point, mother?" Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -boiling water - but each had reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but soon turned soft and weak. The egg, when put to the test, had hardened. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. They had changed the texture of the water and filled it with their aroma. "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When problems knock on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
There is much to learn from that fable. Which one are you? Are you the carrot that seems strong, but wilts in the face of pain and adversity? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but hardens when in adversity? Or, are you like the coffee bean, which actually changes the water, the very circumstance that brings the pain, by its fragrance and flavour. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? There lies the secret to solving problems and handling adversity.
Problems are part and parcel of life. But as they say, where there's a will there's a way. For every problem, there's an alternative course of action. You just have to find it.
The most natural course of action is to evade the problem or just wish it away, but problems, like cancers, usually stay around and spread. So, it's better to confront the situation before it becomes an emergency.
The real problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. When you accept problems, you also learn to have a contingency plan. For instance, when you know there is a danger of fire, you keep extinguishers handy. The important thing to remember about conflicts is that they happen all the time and they are actually opportunities disguised as problems. They provide us with better ways to fix what needs to be fixed and improve what needs to be improved.
And since most problems are man-made, solutions are within our reach. There are two reasons why we tend to see a problem as a problem: the fact that it has to be solved; and our apprehension about the outcome of the solution.
Here are some tips that will help when the going gets tough:
Move On - As Ford said, "Don't find fault, find a remedy. Focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer. Don't just panic as `worry is like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but won't get you anywhere." Learn to think `how' rather than waste time with futile "ifs".
Understand the Problem - Problem solving is the ability to make careful choices. The steps to be followed are: understand the problem; gather the facts; set up the problem; estimate what the outcome should be; work it out; and check the answer. Ask questions, clarify facts and evaluate options to find a workable solution. That's the formula.
Think straight - In problem solving, it is important to have the right mindset. It helps to be open-minded and have the ability to think out-of-the-box. When you have broader vision and unique ideas, you have more tools at your disposal which helps fix the problem better.
Say it with a smile - A prerequisite in any situation in life is the ability to laugh in the face of problems. It really downsizes the enormity of the problem. A sense of humour maintains a sense of balance as it prevents people from collapsing with grief and worry. Humour is more than just being funny; it helps keep things in perspective.
Teamwork - Two minds are better than one. It does help to have more people involved in solving a problem, both for moral support and for the greater range of experience that they can bring to the problem-solving table with their outlook and personality. It adds depth to the troubleshooting team. As Voltaire said, `No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.'
Brainstorm - When it comes to problem solving, ten ideas are better than one. Each idea is worth considering, as the most unlikely one might just be the answer. Resist the temptation to find quick short-term solutions. It tries to put the solution at the beginning of the process, when what is needed is a solution at the end. People have an inborn trait to solve problems if they only just take the time to grasp the situation without panicking.
Write it all down - Keep a record of what is going on. It helps in future problem solving when you have it all in black and white. During a crisis, your memory banks can be scarcely relied upon.
One for all and all for one - This is a critical step that is usually missing. Interests are needs that you want satisfied by a given solution. The best solution is the one that serves everyone's interests. This is the time for active listening. Forget your differences for a while and listen.
Learn from past mistakes - One must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. Learning from problems is growth in the right direction.
Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles; they toughen and make you strong. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Maybe you don't feel all that brave and strong, but just the act of confronting a problem head-on is a step in the right direction.
The original article is by Salma Aliakbar and is here.